Five-race schedule begins at 2:40 p.m. at Newton’s Southside Park
NEWTON – One of the nation’s top high school cross country events, now in its 26th year, will be run on Wednesday afternoon at Southside Park in Newton.
The Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational, which traditionally draws, thousands or participants gets under way at 2:40 p.m. with the first of five races.
An awards ceremony is scheduled at 6 p.m.
Along with being a chance for athletes across the region to compete, it’s a community service project-oriented event.
Event organizer, John Hall said the race has always been about more than just competition.
“It has emphasized good life values, and our requirement of service projects is a natural fit,” Hall said in a press release from the Catawba County United Way. “The young people have embraced it. Each year they are doing important and creative work in their communities across western North Carolina.”
Teams have taken part in everything from community clean-up projects to helping at local soup kitchens.
This year’s guest speaker is Dean Otto, who suffered serious spinal cord injuries when he was hit by a truck while cycling in 2016.
Not only did Otto defy the odds with a near complete and very rapid recovery, he also forgave the young driver who hit him. Just a year after the injury that young man, Otto’s neurosurgeon, and Otto ran a half-marathon together.
He said he’s grateful to have the opportunity to share his story with local students.
“The only thing we have control over are our attitude and actions,” Otto said in the press release. “If we stay positive, great things will happen for us, if we dwell on the negative, that’s where we will end up.
“It’s important to accept life on life’s terms and to forgive others. We all make mistakes and so many positive things can come out of forgiveness.”
The Catawba County United Way Cross Country Invitational started in 1993 with 11 schools from three counties and more than 100 athletes. In 1994, the race moved to Southside Park and has grown in numbers ever since.
Former winners include several state champions and NCAA All-Americans.
For more information contact John Bailey at (828) 327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com.